So, How is Retirement?
This is a question I frequently get asked as I approach the fifth anniversary of my retirement from being the director of the Baldrige Program. The simple answer is: retirement is great!
To give a more detailed answer I did a little organizational assessment of Harry, LLC (Likeable Lively Cheermudgeon). I used the Organizational Profile from the Baldrige Framework as my general guide for the assessment and compared answers then (five years ago) with truth now.
What are my main product offerings?
Five years ago, I said they would be providing some ongoing support to the people and program I love, Baldrige; teaching; spending more time with family and grandchildren; and, some greater time relaxing. So where am I today? I am still involved with the Baldrige Program, largely through writing and through the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program. I am teaching a graduate course on Strategy and Organizational Analysis at American University. I am spending more time with grandchildren and family (probably not as much as we originally anticipated), and I am relaxing a little more, especially when we spend winter months in Sarasota, Florida (yes, snowbirds).
What are the unanticipated product offerings?
A lot of volunteer work. I am involved as a member of the Board of Trustees for Sibley Memorial Hospital, part of Johns Hopkins Medicine; I am on the Hopkins Patient Safety and Quality Committee; I continue my involvement with Adventures in Science, a great hands-on science program for children; I have recently started working with the Communities of Excellence 2026; I have become active in a good works committee at my temple; and I am volunteering with the NIST Standards Alumni Association. Not that you think it seems like all work, I am once again baking most of the bread we eat (as I did when our kids were young), I am playing racquetball regularly, biking when we are in Florida, and enjoy reading more fiction. My latest go to author is Daniel Silva.
What are my key organizational relationships and my key customers/stakeholders?
I anticipated they would be my family, the Baldrige Program staff and volunteers, and myself. All of those are true, but I have also added all the volunteer organizations' people, probably at the expense of my family and myself. I really, really enjoy everything I am doing, but sometimes doing a little less would be nice. My wife says I am failing at retirement!
What are my strategic advantages and challenges?
Finally, let's talk about that all important strategic context. What are my strategic advantages and challenges? My advantages are having a great and understanding family, all the knowledge and colleagues/friends I have gained through the Baldrige Program, and the ongoing analytical mindset that goes back to my education as an analytical chemist. My challenges are learning to say no and finding the time to relax a little more.
What is my improvement system?
It continues to be the Baldrige Framework questions and PDCA. My shortcoming is actually implementing the Check and Act pieces of PDCA.
What advice do I have for my friends who are getting ready to retire?
First, for my Baldrige friends, it is hard to say good-bye to Baldrige once the "bug" has bitten you. And, I think that is OK. It keeps the mind active! I still use the Framework routinely to analyze all kinds of situations (especially those customer situations that have led to many of my stories). Second, wait six months before taking on new commitments. I was given this advice, but was so concerned about having the opportunity to remain involved that I didn't give myself enough time to enjoy the full benefits of family and relaxation. Third, don't take on any task that you don't enjoy. As stated above, while it might be a little more than I planned, I am truly enjoying everything I do. Finally, never forget the blessings of having a great family who supports you and is there for you. I am truly blessed.
And, by the way, if anyone has a good New York deli rye recipe please share it. That bread still eludes me!
Baldrige Excellence Framework
The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.